Every songwriter and producer would have caught themselves working on a song so much to the point where they can’t even reason why they’ve prioritized it so much.
It all starts out from hearing potential on a melody, beat or lyric to then working day and night to perfect every other element around this exciting idea. Though, this isn’t the ‘end all be all’ for a successful song. In fact, more often than not, a chart-topping song only has one or two incredible aspects, and all the other areas are simply complimentary.
What Makes A Hit Song So Successful?
All artists and writers have their niche, their strength, and this is usually what makes or breaks an artist and song. Just like all careers, we all have one specific role that comes naturally to us and some other roles that we may need to reach out for help in order to finish the task. This is no different from writing music, the only difference is that us creatives like to add extra pressure on ourselves to deliver something mind-blowing.
Have you ever listened to a song that is streaming well globally and you’re drawn to one or two specific areas of the song? Perhaps the vocal melody, lyrics or the beat? Sometimes if the song has been crafted exceptionally well, it’s all of the above.
Here’s an example:
If the vocal melody is spectacular, but the lyrics are simple and straightforward, the song still has potential. (e.g. Carly Rae Jepsen’s biggest hits)
If the lyrics are mind-blowing but the vocal melody doesn’t climb that dynamic ladder, potential.
It’s the same with music production:
Say the beat is incredible and fresh, but the leading melodic hook isn’t drawing you in. Potential.
Perhaps the bassline stops you in your tracks, but the beat is average and repetitive. Potential. (e.g. Charlie Puth, Attention)
Below, legendary producer Oak Felder goes into detail on how Demi Lovato's 'Sorry Not Sorry' was constructed. Notice the simplicity of this track? Notice how the simple bass hook is the key element and all other areas are very well complimented?
This is where songwriters begin to overthink the writing process and allow themselves to run around in circles trying to perfect every single area. Whereas the real trick is to master the biggest strengths (writing lyrics, melodies, beats, melodic hooks etc) and develop the weaker areas over time in order to compliment the strongest niche.
How Can I Write A Strong Song?
A good song vs a strong well-written song isn’t easy to come by. Lord knows we all know this. Even some of the greatest songwriters and producers still need to write a few average tracks in order to reach their global hits - it’s human nature and if all aspiring writers were able to have a peek into a Grammy winners back-catalogue, they’d find it pretty inspiring. But how is a strong song written? How many bad/ok songs need to be written in order to reach the smash? Well, that’s the unknown. The true reason why big writers are banging out the hits is because of their consistency and professional adaptability to constructive criticism.
Once you sign to publishing, records or even management, you’re surrounded by a team. Depending on the team, hopefully, this is a group that is all for your personal and professional development. Eventually over time with having regular meetings and feedback on your music, you naturally gain your own A&R ears and can rapidly begin to toss or work further on a song idea, knowing right away it’s potential. Similarly, this skill can become used in sessions and you become the ‘police officer’ of the session, so to speak, directing and policing the creative process.
I always love to tell my writers that just because you’ve written an average song, this doesn’t mean you’re not improving. It simply means you’re one song closer to reaching your biggest game-changers.
Stay persistent and adapt to constructive feedback, writers.
Want to know how well-written songs sound? We've put together handpicked playlists of exceptionally written songs, including separate playlists for strong toplines and production. Head to our Spotify and check out!
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